About Me

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Inukjuak, Quebec, Canada
Always up for a new adventure. I love Musicals, photography, my family, road trips, and beads. So far I have been fortunate enough to teach in Japan, South Korea, Kenya, and the Canadian Arctic. Currently in my 5th year in the frozen North and up for any new adventure.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Great Brownie Experiment

This school year I needed a new challenge that would allow me to channel my stress energy into while enjoying something I enjoy.  I decided to try and find the best brownie recipe.  I sent out a call for recipes from friends and families and they did not disappoint.  I cut off the number of recipes to try at 30 due to the amount of chocolate I would need, not to mention sugar etc.  Since roughly September, I have been bringing in different kinds of brownies to leave in the staff room to be tasted and judged by my fellow teachers.  After all, who better to judge than teachers who are generally in severe need of chocolate and sugar on those really tough days.  Huge thank you to all my willing test subjects, I know that you put your taste buds and waistlines on the line for me and my experiment.  I am attaching the document file that includes all the recipes, as well as the notes from the judging.

The top five brownies were as follows:
The Katherine Hepburn (with walnuts), The Double Decker (brownie with white chips layered over chocolate cookie dough), Caramel Swirl (caramel with pecans), Brownies on the Brain (chocolate chips and cocoa nibs), and The Mocha (coffee & pecan).

And the winner is.... a tie! Katherine Hepburn and The Mocha tied for best overall brownie.

List of the competitors
#1 – Original “Fry’s Cocoa” -nice & fudgey, “tastes like chocolate milk”, rich chocolate taste
#2 – Katherine Hepburn (with walnuts) -love the nuts, good chocolate taste
#3 – Peppermint with ganache -“chic” look, good mint flavour, maybe add mint to the white chocolate swirl, “reminds me of girl guide cookies”
#4 – “Oh Chocolate” (two owls cafĂ©) - darker than original, very chocolatety
#5 – “Rich Fudge” Fudge 1 -texture is more like cake
#6 – Mocha (with pecans) -“wow, taste buds blown away”, love the nuts, richer flavor, good classic look
#7 – Cakey Brownies - “like a dense chocolate cake”
#8 – Chewy Brownies - similar to fudge but good
#9  - “Fudgey” Fudge 2 -“nice bite to them, good fudge taste”
#10 – Dulche du leche (Ten special) – nice, couldn’t taste the cayenne but good orange and coconut
#11 – Peanut Butter swirl – a bit dry, need to swirl the pb more
#12 – Brownies on the Brain (with cocoa nibs) – excellent, wow chocolate flavour, almost as if there was booze in them
#13 – Caramel Swirl – mmm caramel, delicious
#14 – Brownie Bouquet “fluffy” – ok but denser than imagined
#15 -  Blondie 1 – more like cookie dough, strong vanilla taste
#16 – Skor Brownies – delicious, love the bits of skor
#17 – Double Chip Brownies – very dark, ‘almost’ too much chocolate with the added chips, not much pb chip taste
#18 – Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies – nice, slightly fluffy texture, not too much cream cheese taste
#19 – White Chip Orange – meh, not much orange taste, odd texture with the graham cracker crumbs
#20 – Double Decker Black & White – Fantastic, delicious, love the contrast, definitely a favourite
#21 – Guinness Dark Brownies – rich dark flavour, almost like a dark cake
#22 – Caramel Pecan – good caramel flavour, nice ratio of nuts
#23 – Dulche Coffee Brownies – ok, caramel was a bit odd, didn’t use the icing
#24 – Peanut Butter Chip – yummy, good chocolate taste, nice ratio of pb chips, one of the favourites
#25 – Double Peanut Butter Paisley – great pb taste but not really chocolate, difficult to swirl the chocolate syrup
#26 –After Eight Mint Brownies – excellent mint melted taste, dark and not overly sweet
#27 – S’mores brownies – Crumbly with the graham cracker crumbs, marshmallow kinda slips off
#28 – Red Velvet cheesecake brownies – Yummy, very nice 
#29 – Malt Ball Brownies – excellent, nice sugar/caramel flavour

#30 – Pecan pie brownies – lovely, gooey and chocolatey 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Some days....

It has been a crazy month so far and some days it seems like everything is against you.  Freezing weather (hasn't been warmer than -35C since Christmas), cranky students, rush for end of term and report cards, hockey tournaments in and out of town (which means high absenteeism), and wacky internet connections.  This morning at recess I found that a student had tied a rope into an empty noose and hung it in the far stairwell, probably one of the most disturbing things that I have seen in quite awhile.

Today is Friday the 13th and the school just went dark, lights and water are out, but random rooms still have power.  Should have stayed in bed this morning but since I am the teacher that really isn't an option.  Reminds you of that cartoon "But mom I don't want to go to school today" "I know honey, but you have to go, you are the teacher".  Now we wait on maintenance to try and fix the problem.  Personally if it were my choice, I would give in and let the students out to go watch the hockey tournament at the area, it is where they want to be anyway and it would make all the teachers happy on this Friday from hell.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why do I live where the air hurts my face?

It has been a running joke that I have been seeing posted around Facebook and tossed back and forth between my sisters and I.  One of my sisters lives in Arizona and when she starts talking about how much she missed a real winter we remind her that going outside in the winter can often make your face hurt.  Now granted I am living a fair bit North compared to my sisters but walking home from the post office today, arms full, and nose freezing in the -45C temperature I was reminded that I do indeed live where the air hurts my face.  I could have of course pulled my scarf further up over my face but then I would have had the glasses icing up and the resulting blindness for the rest of my walk home.  Eternal dilemma during a winter walk without my contacts.  Made it home in one piece, glasses fogging, and nose just about ready to fall off from the burning cold.  Ahhhh winter :)  But there are wonderful compensations to living where the air hurts your face.  The pure icy white of the frozen bay and river, the undisturbed snow drifts after a storm, the dancing northern lights, the clear winter skies, and the excuse to drink hot chocolate and tea with friends pretty much anytime from October clear into May.  Bundle up, stay warm, and enjoy the winter.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to Reality aka the End of Christmas Vacation

They say that students are the ones that mourn the end of their Christmas/winter vacation and having spoken to a number of my students over the break I do know this to be true.  However I might argue that their teachers may feel the loss of vacation even more keenly that their students particularly if part of your vacation was spent travelling trying to get home.  I did not travel this holiday season but the majority of my colleagues did; taking anywhere from 6hrs to 48hrs to get home.  That is precious vacation time spent in a plane, car, or train that is doubled when you factor in the return trip.  Weather and mechanical issues can also impact the length of time in transit as a number of my colleagues experienced coming back north today, spending more than 24hrs either in an airport or on a plane due to delays.

Even without travel involved, Christmas vacation always seems to pass too quickly.  There is always something that I meant to get done but couldn't find the time or was distracted by other events, tasks, and responsibilities.  While I would say my vacation was productively spent getting organized both professionally and personally (ie: shredding, scanning, and filing) I certainly didn't do everything I wanted.  Time seemed to slip away and now it is Sunday night before school starts and I still have work to do.  Never fails, best intentions and all that...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Terry Fox Run 2014 or the end of my hair

This year I was part of the Terry Fox committee at school and to help the students meet our fundraising goal this year I made a little wager.  The deal: if the students could raise $2000 for cancer research by the end of September I would let them shave my head.  They rose to the challenge :)  After movie nights, classroom coin collections, and the final donations collected during the Terry Fox Run, the students beat their goal.  So on October 3rd, there were 12 teachers ready to get a cream pie in the face as well a pie for the principal, and a line up of students ready to aim and fire.  And after the pies were thrown and pictures were taken it was time to put my safety and hair into the hands of my students.  Despite their excitement and pride at having reached their goal, they were a little nervous about actually cutting off their teacher's hair and shaving her head.  But after their nerves settled they got to work and snip, snip my hair was cut off (to be donated to Locks of Love), and next up came the clippers.  In the end there were only two of my students that were brave enough to actually shave my head and they did a very good job.  Long hair to peach fuzz in a matter of minutes for an excellent cause.

A New Year in the North

-34C with the windchill and light blowing snow.  Will there be fireworks in the Arctic? Absolutely!  After spending a quiet Christmas holiday in Inukjuak getting organized and looking after a few huskies, cats, fish, and plants for my fellow teachers I was looking forward to the fireworks tonight.  When I went to let the dogs out for their final pee of the night I was not sure about the way the weather was looking.  The blowing snow seemed to be picking up and the wind seemed stronger; not a good thing when you are planning to set off fireworks.  Luckily, this is the Arctic, no trees and lots of snow.  After getting confirmation from a friend that the fireworks were going to go off as planned I prepped for the weather.  Two layers of long johns: check, fleece neck warmer and touque: check, -40 boots, parka, and paluks: check.  Grabbed the tripod, an extra battery, and tucked the camera into the parka to keep it warm until the show got started; I was ready to go.  I headed down to the river to get a good spot that was out of the wind with a good view of the spot they were setting off the fireworks from.  Skidoos, hondas, and trucks were headed down the river road as parka bundled people waddling through the snow to the river bank to see the show.  Got my tripod set up just in time and settled down into the snow to watch the snow.  This is my third New Year's Eve in Inukjuak and the fireworks never disappoint.  There is some thing wonderful about being bundled up in the freezing cold and watching fireworks explode against an empty background of snow, ice and rock.  Halfway through I put the camera away and just sat back to enjoy the show as people shouted Happy New Year and honked their horns.  Walking back home, nose tingling with the cold, I loved the fact that people were calling out Happy New Year as they roared past on their skidoos and hondas.  It gives you a feeling that it will be a Happy New Year.